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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

April 09, 1865

Grant/Lee Correspondence Finished; Army of Northern Virginia Surrendered

General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses S. Grant had exchanged letters the two previous days, discussing peace negotiations. That correspondence now continued, with Grant writing Lee.

April 9, 1865.

Commanding C. S. A.

Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to treat on the subject of peace, the meeting proposed for ten A.M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally anxious for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Sincerely hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,


Lee immediately replied.

April 9, 1865.

GENERAL: I received your note of this morning on the picket-line whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now request an interview in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday for that purpose.

R. E. LEE, General.

Union General George Meade was scheduled to launch an attack on the Confederates around this time, and Lee wrote him the following note.

9th April 1865

I ask a suspension of hostilities pending the adjustment of the terms of the surrender of this army, in the interview requested in my former communication today.

Very respectfully
Your obt. servt.,
R. E. Lee

Meade agreed to hold off the attack for one hour, and suggested to Lee that he try to contact Grant again. Lee did so.

Hd Qrs A N Va
9th April 1865

General, I sent a communication to you today from the picket line whither I had gone in hopes of meeting you in pursuance of the request contained in my letter of yesterday. Maj. Gen. Meade informs me that it would probably expedite matters to send a duplicate through some other part of your lines. I therefore request an interview at such time and place as you may designate, to discuss the terms of the surrender of this army in accordance with your offer to have such an interview contained in your letter of yesterday.

Very respectfully
Your obt servt
R. E. Lee

Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant, Comdr. U. S. Armies.

Upon receiving this note, Grant immediately responded.

Commanding C. S. Armies.

Your note of this date is but this moment (11.50 A.M.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker’s Church and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish the interview to take place will meet me.


General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant met at the farmhouse of Wilmer McLean to discuss terms of surrender. After some initial talk, Grant penned the following proposal.

Ap 19th, 1865.

Comd’g C. S. A.

GEN: In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

Very respectfully,

Lt. Gen.

Lee informed Grant that his cavalry and artillery used their own horses, to which Grant replied that he would “let every man of the Confederate army who claims to own a horse or mule take the animal to his home.” Lee then wrote the following note, accepting the terms of surrender.

April 9, 1865.

GENERAL: I received your letter of this date containing the terms of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia as proposed by you. As they are substantially the same as those expressed in your letter of the 8th inst., they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.

R. E. LEE, General.

The Civil War in Virginia - where many Georgians fought - was over. By the time of the surrender, the Confederate army, due to casualties, capture, or desertion - was down to 28,000 men, while the Union army had well over 100,000. The Georgia soldiers would have to find their own way home.